Leaving purses and items of value inside cars while parking around town, at parks or day care centers is an invitation to burglars, particularly members of the Felony Lane Gang, the Naperville Police are warning.
A series of vehicle break-ins that took place last week and over the weekend are consistent with the pattern of the , the Naperville Police Department said in a news release Tuesday.
On April 17, there were three burglaries at a daycare center on Naperville’s south side and on Saturday there were four burglaries at Nike Park, according to . And, similar vehicle burglaries also occurred in neighboring communities.
Police said one witness reported seeing a black Ford Edge with one of the burglary suspects inside. A license plate number was provided to police who determined the plate had been stolen earlier from a vehicle in the northern suburbs.
Members of the Felony Lane Gang have netted more than $100,000 in cash and stolen property through smash and grab incidents in Naperville since August of 2010, the Naperville Police Department has said.
The thieves typically target areas where women might leave purses or wallets unattended inside vehicles, such as fitness clubs, parks, and daycare centers, the police have said. Once the items are stolen, the members of the gang then use the identification and banking information to steal large amounts of money.
In the most recent vehicle burglaries, the women did attempt to hide their purses in the vehicles, the police said. A few days after the items were stolen, police said a few of the identifications were used to commit identity theft at suburban banks.
“The only way to prevent yourself from being victimized by this group of criminals is to not leave your purse in the car,” Naperville Police Sgt. Kammerer said in a news release. “Remember; these are career criminals who make a living by stealing from others. Watch for suspicious vehicles in the parking lot. Observe and make note of the occupant(s) description, make and model of the vehicle and license plate. Report your observations to the police. Again, please remember to take your purse with you when you get out of the car.”
As Naperville Patch reported previously, the Naperville Police said since it began working with state and federal authorities gathering information it has learned members of the gang are typically recruited in Florida and include male and female members, according to police. The men in the gang are typically black and have been described as having dreadlocks and gold teeth or beards and gold teeth. The men are often seen in a rental vehicle with Florida license plates, according to Naperville Police. The women involved in the gang are typically white.
The men smash windows of cars, often hitting several vehicles at one time and in seconds stealing wallets and purses left out in open. Once the robberies are completed, the women involved are given identification and checks to use to write fraudulent checks.
More than 100 members of the gang have been identified and several arrests have been made, police said, but there are still many active gang members.